Daily Office

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:1-6)

I did a quick search of Matthew’s Gospel and found that Jesus uses the words ‘do not’ relatively few times as far as direct commands are concerned. If I counted right, and I’m tired so I might not have, twenty-six times. That’s not a lot considering that Matthew wrapped thirty-three years of life into a mere twenty-eight chapters. Jesus probably heard ‘do not’ more than he ever said it, I guess. “Jesus, do not play with your food,” or something absurd like that. Or, “Jesus, do not give your brother swirlies.” I’m just guessing here.

This section represents one of those twenty-six times and this first verse is usually bandied about like a six-shooter and everyone lays claim to it for one reason or another. Everyone says, “Don’t judge.” It seems that anytime a pagan has a criticism of a disciple this is one of the first things out of their mouth, “You Christians do too much judging…didn’t Jesus tell you not to judge?” Well, yes. He also told us not to throw our pearls before pigs. I suspect we all retain a lot of riches in this way. As DA Carson is fond of reminding his listeners when preaching on this verses, “Someone still has to decide who is and is not the swine…and that involves judgment.” Ah, yes!

Jesus told us ‘do not’ to a lot of things. “Do not swear at all, by heaven or earth.” And, “Do not resist an evil person” (one I’m sure requires no judgment either!) “Do not judge” seems to carry the same moral and theological imperative as, say, “Do not worry” or “do not be afraid” or “do not call anyone on earth ‘father.’” But I know better than that. You and I know that the first thing we do when we see someone is we judge them, we size them up, and we form an opinion about them based solely on the way they look. I do it every time someone walks into my store.

Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” In a vacuum this means what it says: Don’t do it. But we don’t live in vacuums so Jesus also clarifies: the standard you use is the standard that will be used. OK. So I should be gracious, kind, merciful, and considerate. We need to read this post-Calvary, post-Easter, post-Ascension, and Pre-Parousia. Post-Cavalry disciples read this in light of the cross where the world and sin were judged. Not only do we understand the world differently, we understand ourselves relatively completely: we know there is a log in our eyes and this log necessarily obfuscates our vision. This means, I believe, that I simply cannot pass judgment on anyone. It will not do. Why? Well, frankly, because I’m no better.

We cannot even see ourselves, let alone someone standing in front of us. Hauerwas notes, “Following Christ requires our recognizing that the one I am tempted to judge is like me—a person who has received the forgiveness manifest in the cross” (S Hauerwas, BTCB, Matthew, 86). I might also add that it also means we are just like them: blind to our own unrighteousness. How have I heard it said? We are like one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.

This world is different now that Jesus has been resurrected. (Different also as we await his appearing.) Our judgments and opinions need to be sober, sophisticated, and humble. Or we should just be quiet. We belong to a community that sees life for what it is. We see reality: cold, hard, and determined. We see hunger and thirst and suffering and opportunity. But do we see the world that is God’s world? Judgment is too easy. Passing judgment, acting upon our judgment, withholding love because of that judgment is a damnable offense. We belong to a new community that is not conditioned upon judgment, but love. We belong to a community free of judgment.

Judgment is associated with a lot of things in this world: power, hate, prejudice, racism, and a whole host of other damaging behaviors. Judgment is associated with many things, but love is not one of them.

As I listen to the Spirit sing into my heart, I hear the words of the poet, “Love is blindness.” Where there is love, there is no judgment. Open my eyes so that I might see myself, Lord, and love as I have, indeed, been loved. I think when the plank is removed from my eye, and I confess the truth of my own sin, I’m not going to be so concerned about the sin of others.

Next time you want to judge: Just don’t; just love.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 at 12:05 am and is filed under Devotional, Misuse of Scripture, Theology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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9 Comments(+Add)

1   Neil    
September 29th, 2010 at 10:38 am

i have always found this a difficult command. not so much in the sense that i want to judge, therefore it is difficult not to; but more so because the rest of the pericope assumes that we will judge. and in other places we are encouraged to judge.

and of course, if we removed all judgment we’d be left with a faith that was to broad it would be meaningless. that is why i would disagree with the sentiment that “where there is love, there is no judgment.”

there needs to be judgment, but judgment that is tempered with love. and not some ethereal love for only god and his word – as if we are defending the faith and god against powerpoint! – but a love that extends beyond god and the faith and includes those whom we think need judging as well.

does that make sense?

so i guess i am disagreeing with the don’t judge, just love sentiment (b/c i think it impractical)… but i certainly agree with the general sentiment.

2   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
September 29th, 2010 at 10:55 am

I have always found Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 5 interesting:

“But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

3   Neil    
September 29th, 2010 at 11:44 am

so that would imply a level of judgment then – correct?

what i find interesting is his criteria – he lists greed and slandering and the like. he does not mention judging others because they do not use the word “repent” or “hell” or [insert hobby horse] enough… or because their gimmicks are all wrong.

4   John Hughes    
September 29th, 2010 at 12:39 pm

I’ve always understood this to mean don’t judge unto motives (as we cannot see the heart), don’t judge unto the state of one’s salvation (as only God knows), don’t judge unto condemnation (as that, again, is in only in God’s purview).

The human mind is bombarded with sensory input and making initial “judgements” have their place in sorting all this data. For example, when someone comes in the door of your business or comes up to you on the street, first impressions can have a very real benefit to one’s safety for example. These types of judgements provide a ligitimate function. However, this first “judgement” must be tempered by reason and open to futher revelation as the facts dictate, and for the Christian by all the other attributes of our faith, the foremost being love.

I think Christ was speaking to our propensity to self-righteousness. For example, I may make a judgement when someone wears shorts and sandals to a worship service while totally ignoring that I spend the whole service of thinking why I hate the deacon on the 3rd row instead of worshiping God.

I think basically, it’s a warning to not judge without all the facts. And in some cases we will never have all the facts so no legitimate judgement can be made.

5   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
September 29th, 2010 at 1:59 pm

I think a careful reading of my thoughts would indicate that I notice these words of Jesus do not occur in a vacuum. Instead, I wrote something to effect of, “Our judgments and opinions need to be sober, sophisticated, and humble.”

6   Neil    
September 29th, 2010 at 2:12 pm

i agree. that’s basically what i was getting at when i said

so i guess i am disagreeing with the don’t judge, just love [statement] (b/c i think it impractical)… but i certainly agree with the general sentiment.

7   John Hughes    
September 29th, 2010 at 5:42 pm

#5 – Agreed, and I think our judgment of others should also be offered with a mirror in the other hand:

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load. Gal 6:1-5

We need to recognize in ourselves what we see in others, and judge ourselves as we judge others.

Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. 3But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Rom 2:1-3

Pretty scary stuff.

8   John Hughes    
September 29th, 2010 at 5:47 pm

#6 – Ditto

Next time you want to judge: Just don’t; just love – Jerry.

Yeah, Although I agree with a lot of waht you are saying, Jerry I can’t accept that statement as an absolute.

“Love” “don’t judge. It’s more compliated than that.’

I would say “always temper/filter judgement with love”

9   pastorboy    http://www.riveroflifealliance.com
September 29th, 2010 at 8:50 pm

John 7:24Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

That is, according not to your own opinion, but according to scripture…

1 Corinthians 5:11But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no not to eat.